Saturday 7 December 2019

Plea for more garda resources as pensioner's murderer jailed

Mr Gillespie's niece Aisling Tinsley leaving court.
Mr Gillespie's niece Aisling Tinsley leaving court.

Niamh O'Donoghue

The family of a pensioner who was murdered by a burglar have pleaded for more resources for gardai in order to protect those at risk in society.

They said Eugene Gillespie (67) was so generous he would have given murderer Simon McGinley (30) the "shirt off his back".

Instead the retired man was subjected to a savage assault and was left tied up in his home before later passing away.

Mr Gillespie's niece, Aisling Tinsley, made the comments in a victim-impact statement given to the court after McGinley was convicted of the murder of the pensioner.

McGinley, of Connaughton Road Car Park, Sligo, had denied murder but admitted the manslaughter of Mr Gillespie on September 22, 2012.

He had pleaded guilty to the false imprisonment of Mr Gillespie and trespass to commit robbery at his home in Old Market Street on September 19, 2012.

The Central Criminal Court heard the manslaughter plea was not accepted by the State and a jury was sworn in for the trial.

Mr Gillespie was a retired telecoms broker who also worked in the family shop and lived alone with his dog, Tiny. He was found tied up in the hallway of his home by his nephew and his brother, two days after McGinley assaulted him.

McGinley, who said he only knew the deceased to see, had called 999 the day after the assault to say a man was tied up in the house.

But gardai went to the wrong house and Mr Gillespie was not found until the following day after his partner and family became concerned they had not heard from him. Mr Gillespie died in hospital the following day after suffering a cardiac arrest and attempts to resuscitate him failed.

Yesterday, the jury of seven women and five men returned a unanimous verdict of guilty of murder after five hours of deliberation.

Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan sentenced McGinley to life imprisonment, backdating it to September 29, 2012, for time spent in custody. He also handed down a 10-year sentence for the false imprisonment charge and seven years for the burglary to run concurrently with the life imprisonment.

McGinley made a 999 call to gardai the day after the assault saying a man was tied up in a house with brown gates.

In an interview, he told gardai he had not expected anyone to be in the house. He had punched Mr Gillespie with closed fists and tied him up before searching the house.

Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis told the court the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head, face and neck.


The pathologist said the brain injury could have resulted from repeated blows or by being knocked to the ground, or both. He said the cause of death was bronchial pneumonia due to coma, due to severe blunt trauma to the head, face and neck. Dr Curtis said ischemia of the hands, due to being bound, was a contributory factor.

Nicholas Crellin, who was the acting clinical manager at Sligo General Hospital on September 22, 2012, gave evidence that Mr Gillespie was critically ill. "It was a horrendous sight to behold," he said of Mr Gillespie's injuries.

McGinley had 21 previous convictions for offences including assault causing harm, burglary and public order.

Blaise O'Carroll, defending, submitted McGinley made the 999 call on September 20, 2012, that he co-operated with gardai and made full admissions.

He said his client was "truly sorry for what has happened".

However, Mr Gillespie's family said the loss of Eugene and their security was "insurmountable".

"We as a family would like to use this opportunity to plead for more resources to be given to An Garda Siochana in their efforts to safeguard those at risk in this country who are under daily attack," said his niece.

"Every day we walk up the street there is now a constant reminder of the savagery of his death. Since Eugene's death, we, as a family and as a community, feel more vulnerable in our homes.

"Eugene's tragic and brutal death shocked his beloved and heartbroken sisters, Patsy and Elizabeth, and his brother, Brian, and partner, Joan. Brian unfortunately passed away a few short months after Eugene's death.

"There was no need to inflict those horrific injuries on Eugene, for his generous nature would have meant that he would have given Simon McGinley the shirt off his back."

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News